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What Makes a Good Data Visualization?

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What Makes a Good Data Visualization?

Published April 4, 2012

NYPL Labs and Leaders in Software and Art present:

What Makes Good Data Visualization?
Perspectives on the visual representation of data from the fields of art, science, computing, statistics, journalism, marketing and entertainment
Wednesday, April 4 5-8pm
6-7:30pm Panel and discussion
7:30-8pm Mingling and exit
South Court Auditorium, Steven A. Schwarzman Building, New York Public Library
455 5th Avenue at 42nd Street

Moderated by Jonathan Stray, Interactive Technology Editor for the Associated Press
With panelists:
Kaiser Fung, Blogger, junk
Andrew Gelman, Director, Applied Statistics Center, Columbia University
Mark Hansen, Artist; Professor of Statistics, UCLA
Tahir Hemphill, Creative Director; Founder, Hip Hop Word Count Project
Manuel Lima, Founder,; Senior UX Design Lead, Microsoft Bing

Join us at the South Court Auditorium at the New York Public Library as we bring together a group of interdisciplinary experts for a penetrating discussion on data visualization. As this practice rises in popularity, a series of questions has arisen with it: What is data visualization? What are the most exciting projects and tools happening today in this space? How can we best present data to enlighten, entertain and inspire ordinary people about everyday things? Which visualization methods are most effective in what circumstances? Can a discipline of data visualization be established based on scientific or design principles? What perspectives should be considered when judging data representation? Drawing on audience participation, we'll begin exploring answers to these questions and more.

About Leaders in Software and Art
Leaders in Software and Art (LISA) was founded in 2009 as a networking community for cutting-edge artists who use technology in their work. LISA gatherings feature artists and others in related fields showcasing their work and are attended by people fascinated by tech art, such as curators, collectors, gallerists, software engineers, scientists, creative professionals, designers, and of course other tech artists. What began with software art presentations has grown to include data visualization, sculpture made using LEDs, microprocessors and Arduino, web art, interactive art apps, internet start-ups in the art space, architecture, design, music, and more. The LISA website at features interviews with tech artists from around the world.

About NYPL Labs
NYPL Labs is an experimental unit at the New York Public Library developing ideas and tools for digital research. A collaboration among curators, designers and technologists, NYPL Labs is dedicated to rethinking what a public research library can be and do in the new information commons. We develop everything from proof-of-concept pilots to fully realized web applications and digital archives, as well as hosting a variety of staff workshops and public talks. Building on the Library's public mission, Labs also seeks to foster collaboration with NYPL users through crowdsourcing and participatory initiatives, and shares tools and data with the wider library and digital humanities communities.

About Kaiser Fung
Kaiser is a professional statistician with over a decade of experience applying statistical methods to marketing and advertising businesses. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, in addition to degrees from Princeton and Cambridge Universities. He is a statistician for Sirius XM Radio. His acclaimed blog, Junk Charts (, pioneered the critical examination of data and graphics in the mass media. He is also an adjunct professor at New York University teaching practical statistics.

About Andrew Gelman
Andrew is one of the leading quantitative researchers at the interface of social science and statistics. He is currently a professor of statistics and political science and director of the Applied Statistics Center at Columbia University. He has received numerous honors for his work, including the Outstanding Statistical Application award from the American Statistical Association, the award= for best article published in the American Political Science Review, and the Council of Presidents of Statistical Societies award for outstanding contributions by a person under the age of 40. Andrew has written several books. He is also well known for his blog, "Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science", which covers topics such as data analysis, statistical graphics, politics, social science and academics in general. Andrew received his undergraduate degrees in math and physics at MIT and his PhD in statistics from Harvard.

About Mark Hansen
Mark is currently a Professor of Statistics at UCLA, where he also has an appointment in the Design|Media Art Department. Previously he was a member of the Technical Staff in the Statistics and Data Mining Research Department of Bell Laboratories. In addition to his formal statistical work, Hansen also has an active art practice involving the presentation of large or complex data streams for the public. In 2004, Hansen and his collaborator Ben Rubin, (EAR Studio), were awarded the 2004 Ars Electronica Golden Nica for Interactive Art for his Listening Post (with Ben Rubin); and his work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum in New York City, The Museum of Modern Art, the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, the London Science Museum, The New York Public Library, the Aarhus Kunstmuseum, the San Jose Museum of Art, The List Visual Arts Center at MIT, and the Cartier Foundation in Paris. In 2005 Hansen and Rubin were named Media Arts Fellows (a program funded by the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations).

About Tahir Hemphill
Tahir is an award-winning creative director and multimedia artist working in the areas of interdisciplinary thought, collaboration and research. His current project, The Hip-Hop Word Count is a searchable rap almanac. Hemphill also manages the media arts education program for Red Clay Arts, a nonprofit incubator for contemporary artists that he co-founded in 2000. As creative director, Hemphill has planned strategy for businesses in the entertainment, advertising, and nonprofit industries. He has conceived and implemented design-based solutions for brands including Mercedes Benz, LâOreal, Verizon, and Microsoft. Hemphill has been a consultant for Y&R, Publicis, Grey, Saatchi & Saatchi and Burrell Communications. His artwork was exhibited at the Talk to Me exhibit at MoMA, Siggraph, Queens Museum of Art, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Hemphill holds a B.A. from Morehouse College, a Strategic Planning Certificate from Miami Ad School and a M.S. in Communications Design from Pratt Institute..

About Manuel Lima
Manuel is a leading voice on information visualization and a frequent speaker in conferences and schools around the world, including TED, Lift, OFFF, Reboot, VizThink, IxDA Interaction, Royal College of Art, ENSAD Paris, University of Amsterdam, and MediaLab Prado Madrid. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, nominated by Creativity magazine as "one of the 50 most creative and influential minds of 2009", Manuel Lima is a Senior UX Design Lead at Microsoft Bing and founder of Manuel has worked as a Senior User Experience Designer at Nokia and Senior Interaction Designer at the leading digital agency R/GA and has worked for Siemens Corporate Research Center, the American Museum of Moving Image and Parsons Institute for Information Mapping. He holds a BFA in Industrial Design and a MFA in Design & Technology from Parsons School of Design, New York.

About Jonathan Stray
Jonathan is interactive technology editor at The Associated Press global headquarters in New York, overseeing developers and producers who create new storytelling techniques and experiences. Stray started writing computer graphics software in high school, eventually landing a job at Adobe Systems, where he led a number of research projects. In his time off, he traveled through Africa and Asia. Awed by what he saw, he began to write about it and found work as a freelance journalist. He moved to Hong Kong in 2009, contributing to Foreign Policy, The New York Times and China Daily. He holds a masterâs in computer science from the University of Toronto and a masterâs in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He won the Knight News Challenge in Journalism and Media Innovation in 2011 for leading the Overview project.

Run time 112 minutes 12 seconds
Producer Kaiser Fung, Andrew Gelman, Mark Hansen, Tahir Hemphill, Manuel Lima, Jonathan Stray, Leaders in Software and Art, NYPL Labs
Audio/Visual sound, color


Reviewer: goulnik - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 28, 2012
Subject: visually impaired recording
hi, great panel and discussion, being able to watch this across time and space, downloading in multiple formats is fantastic.
yet part of the message is lost, in the case of data visualization, having access to the slides is essential. the visuals should be made available for download.
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